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Life can only be pain Far better to die Death is not the worst thing rather, when one who craves death cannot attain even that wish.
While I loved the dialogue, the pacing of this Hamlet and Antigone caper was a bit rushed The chorus was particularly effective, the atmosphere resonates with revenge Electra pines but does not waste Her timid sister cringes in comparison to this inferno of vengeance Then suddenly she has a cohort and the circumstances of his arrival afford their nemesis interlopers opportunity to even further impugn their deeds or do they Aegisthus, what were you thinking There is a nobility in the Divine There s also Icarian agency Think Cobain, Come back as Fire Burn all the liars Leave a blanket of ash on the ground The plot was the only one pursued by three of the Greek masters Euripides and Aeschylus being the other two which invites comparisons, though apparently the chronology is regrettably unclear.
Anne Carson begins her translator s foreword by saying, a translator is someone trying to get between a body and its shadow, which is the best description I ve ever heard of what it means to translate Shadows are interesting things in folklore To be separated from one s shadow is often a sentence to eternal soullessness, and that s exactly what too many translations do divide the soul of a work from its body, condemning it to eternal indifference.
There is none of that here Carson s language choices are sublime, electric Yeah, yeah I went there Maybe I should have started by saying that Electra and I have never gotten along.
She s always been a difficult figure for me I ve never quite managed to like her From the first time I encountered her in kiddie editions of Greek mythology, she grated Finding her again in translation after translation didn t change that initial impression, though Eugene O Neill and some of the less academic Aeschylus almost succeeded I ve spent most of my life rolling my eyes at poor Electra She s even been a consistent, shrill presence on my list of most irritating characters, alongside King Lear and Victor Frankenstein.
And this is why Anne Carson s phenomenal translation has to be the focus of this review Because of it, I can never find Electra annoying again Her personal torment, which too often comes across as screechy and overwrought, is allowed the psychological complexity it likely always had Electra listening to her mother s death is easily one of the most chilling scenes in drama, and I didn t recognize it as such until Anne Carson.
This is a beautiful translation read it, then read the excellent introduction by Michael Shaw and Carson s stellar foreword, then read the play again Greek tragedy s shadow is rarely allowed to stay this close to its body.
In closing, here s one of the raddest things a chorus has ever said The curses are workingUnder the grounddead men are alivewith their black lips movingblack mouths suckingon the soles of killers feet